The Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro is the only venue in the Southeast to host Existed: Leonardo Drew, a major exhibition of 14 large-scale works and eight works on paper created by the Tallahassee, Florida, native between 1991 and 2006. Xandra Eden, curator of exhibitions for the Weatherspoon offered these insights into Drew and why you won’t want to miss his show.
|“Fifteen years ago when I was a graduate student I saw two wall-sized installations by Drew — they were very textured and detailed and looked like junk, like someone had dragged things out of the dump and carefully arranged them into a grid. They were beautiful, stunning pieces and I never forgot that experience. So when the opportunity came to bring this exhibition of his work to the Weatherspoon, we were all really enthusiastic about it.
Drew’s work has what we call a “junkyard aesthetic” which combines the clean lines of minimalist sculpture with very messy, organic elements. You’ll find cloth, feathers, animal carcasses, wood and other materials. It feels like something from a tribal culture, but it’s all stuff that we know and understand, things that you might find on the street.
It’s significant that Drew is an African-American artist, influenced by the African-American experience who tries to integrate that into his work. He presents a kind of “history” of our culture by using cotton bags and satchels that connect to slavery and the cotton industry in the South. Rust is another of his materials. He uses it to convey the past, but also how the past lives on — that there’s a regeneration — that rust actually forms on top of something decaying.
It’s all large-scale work, so we are really lucky to have such a huge main exhibition space at the Weatherspoon. Our museum has white walls and square spaces and everything’s very tidy, and then you have these very untidy things, but they are organized by the artists’ hand.
Drew also installed a large-scale site-specific work in the atrium space in our lobby. It’s made from hundreds of little bits of wood and metal, and it is over all the walls, all the way around the atrium. It’s a really beautiful piece.”
See Existed: Leonardo Drew at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the corner of Spring Garden and Tate streets on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro through Sunday, May 9. Admission is free and hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. Educational and public programs related to the exhibition at the Weatherspoon were made possible through a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
Inclement weather caused the opening night artist lecture by Leonardo Drew at the museum’s Cone Auditorium to be rescheduled to Friday, March 19 at 6 p.m. Although all tickets for this free event have been distributed, the public is welcome to attend a reception that will follow in the atrium beginning at 7 p.m. For more information, visit weatherspoon.uncg.edu or call (336) 334-5770.
Two major new museums make a visit to Charlotte even more exciting this spring. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts & Culture have opened as part of the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus, which also includes the the Knight Theater, the North Carolina Dance Theatre and the Mint Museum Uptown, which will open this October.
The Bechtler features more than 1,400 works of art created by major figures of 20th-century modernism including Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro, Edward Degas and Pablo Picasso. The Gantt is the permanent home for the John and Vivian Hewitt Collection, which includes 58 works by 20 renowned artists including Charlotte natives Romare Bearden and Charles Austin. The facilities’ designs — the Bechtler by Mario Botta and the Gantt by The Freelon Group — make them works of art in themselves, and include displays of significant public art. Take an outdoor stroll of the campus to experience French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s The Firebird along with David Wilson’s Divergent Threads, Lucent Memories and Juan Logan’s Intersection.
The weekend of Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25 marks the grand re-opening of the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, which features a new 127,000 square-foot building highlighting the museum’s permanent collection, outdoor gardens showcasing large-scale sculpture and dozens of new art acquisitions including Pablo Picasso’s 1952 Seated Woman, Red and Yellow Background.
In addition to live performances of gospel music, Appalachian and Native American song, hip-hop, jazz and Latin American music, the museum will feature special site-specific performances by dancer/choreographer Mark Dendy and Dendy DanceTheater including 75 students from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem and other North Carolina dancers.
Created by Dendy, a Weaverville native who received his early training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and at the American Dance Festival, these one-of-a-kind performances will be inspired by the art and architecture of the museum’s new building. The performances are co-sponsored by the American Dance Festival with support from the North Carolina Arts Council. In 2009 Dendy created two site-specific installations — at the Durham Performing Arts Center and Golden Belt Artist Studios — for the American Dance Festival’s 75th anniversary.
The North Carolina Museum of Art was founded in 1947 with an unprecedented $1 million appropriation from the state of North Carolina, the first state in the nation to use public funds to purchase art.
Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem features a renowned collection of American art including masterpieces by Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Frederic Church, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe and Grant Wood. Spring is a perfect time to visit the museum as well as Reynolda Gardens. Take a 60-second tour of Reynolda House in the Arts Council’s latest Museums in a Minute profile.
For a snapshot of major North Carolina Museums and links, visit ncarts.org/freeform_scrn_template.cfm?ffscrn_id=85.